Justice for GIS Filipino Workers: A Report back from the fact finding mission in Louisiana


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Last February, delegates from various organizations around New York and New Jersey went to Louisiana as part of a national fact-finding mission to shed light on the horrific situation of Filipino migrant workers at the Grand Isle Shipyard. 

This is part of the nation-wide campaign to seek justice for the Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino workers. Hear their stories and learn how you can help support our brave workers. 

When: April 19 | 6:30pm-9pm 
Where: CUNY Hunter | Room 619HW

*if you’re not a Hunter or CUNY student, please bring an ID. 

For more information about the campaign visit:

– Pilipinos of Hunter (POH)
– Anakbayan (New York & New Jersey Chapter)
– Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – North East Region (BAYAN-USA)
– National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)

– Philippine Union of La Guardia Student Organization (PULSO)
– Coalition for the Revitalization of Asian American Studies at Hunter (CRAASH)
– Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College (AASP)

– if your organization wants to co-sponsor this event, please email us Yves Nibungco at yvesnibungco@gmail.com or at anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com

Filipino Youth and Students Extend Support to Enslaved Filipino Oil Rig Workers and Their Families

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Photos by Robert Roy

For Immediate Release

21 January 2013

Matthew Cheirs II, Chairperson, Anakbayan New York
Bea Sabino, Chairperson, Anakbayan New Jersey
Contact: anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com


Activists urge the community to defend immigrant workers’ rights in the face of modern-day slavery

New York, NYProgressive Filipino youth group, Anakbayan, participated in a series of events in New York City to demand justice for the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS) workers. A group of over 70 Filipino workers have filed a class action lawsuit against Grand Isle Shipyard, Inc. for labor abuse and exploitation, unlawful deductions, isolation and violation of civil liberties, human trafficking, racism, discrimination and modern day slavery.
Since 2008, an estimated 500 Filipinos have worked for GIS, deemed one of the most dangerous oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Its serious safety code violations need to be addressed immediately, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The Justice for GIS Filipino Workers Campaign (J4GIS-Fil-Workers), led by Philippine Forum, was launched on January 16 with a press conference composed of community leaders, Filipino civil rights attorney, Ellaine Carr, two former GIS workers, and the wife and children of Avelino Tajonera, one of the three Filipino workers killed in the oil platform explosion on November 16, 2012.

Youth Unite with Immigrant Workers

The New York and New Jersey chapters of Anakbayan are collaborating with various immigrant and worker groups in the area to raise awareness about labor trafficking and modern day slavery.

On January 18th, a picket was held in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York to demand accountability from the Philippine government.

Philippine Ambassador Cuisia claims he has been aware of the unsafe working conditions at GIS since 2010; yet 3 of our kababayans are dead, hundreds exploited. The Philippine government, through the Labor Export Program, supplies the world’s industries with millions of Filipino workers. Workers whose rights and welfare the government fails to protect,” said Matthew Cheirs II, Chairperson of Anakbayan New York.

The Louisiana contingent’s visit concluded with a Community Reception and Candlelight Vigil on the evening of January 19 at the Bayanihan Community Center in Queens, NY.

Dozens of supporters came out to hear the workers’ testimonies about the harsh conditions they experienced while working at GIS. The Tajonera family shared stories of courage and grief over the death of Avelino Tajonera, who risked his life to provide for his wife and young children.

Trafficking survivors, including the “Florida 15”, shared words of encouragement with the GIS workers. Community members and grassroots organizations also commended the workers’ determination and expressed their support for the campaign.

Alice Feng, Educational Officer of the Revolutionary Students Coordinating Committee, said in solidarity, “As students, we have the task of bringing their [the workers’] struggles to light in the broadest way possible. Our struggles on campus are connected to our struggles in our communities and our homelands.

Take a Stand Against Slavery

The workers’ week- long visit to New York City is only the beginning. Anakbayan is urging Filipino- American youth in New York and New Jersey to stand up for immigrant rights and actively participate in the J4GIS-Fil-Workers campaign.

Filipino laborers escaping slavery under Spanish colonial rule at the time of the Manila- Acapulco trade were the first Filipino settlers in the United States. They found sanctuary in Louisiana in the late 18th century. Today, workers imported from the Philippines, are enduring similar conditions that Filipino pioneers in the US fled from centuries ago,” shared Bea Sabino, Chairperson of Anakbayan New Jersey.

Slavery should not have a place in the 21st century,” continued Sabino. “We call on our fellow Filipino youth to take a stand against exploitation and racism. Help us spread the word by organizing public forums and signing up for the Fact Finding Mission to Louisiana on February 20-24, 2013.

To set up an information session at your church, campus or community space, please contact Bea Sabino (201.779.6886) for New Jersey, or Matthew Cheirs II (917.601.0378) for New York.

For more information about the Justice for GIS Filipino Workers Campaign, please contact Anne Beryl Corotan (516.901.1832), aberylc@gmail.com or Jonna Baldres (646.578.7390), jonnabaldres@gmail.com of Philippine Forum.###

GIS banner

Survivors and Families of the victims of the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS) speaks out to fight for truth and justice for over 70 GIS Filipino workers


January 16, 2013 5169011832

Survivors and Families of the victims of the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS) speaks out to fight for truth and justice for over 70 GIS Filipino workers.

Three Filipino workers killed while three more are severely injured in Black Elk explosion on november 16, 2012. Over 70 Filipino Workers filed a class action for violation of FLSA, discrimination, trafficking, slavery, wage theft and fraud against the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS). GIS is a US company based in Louisiana supplying labor to oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico and recruited Filipino welders, pipefitters, and scaffolders to work on its various projects in the Gulf.

A few of the survivors who filed complaints, families of the victims of the Black Elk explosion and community

advocates will speak at a press conference at the Bayanihan Community Center on january 16, 2013 at 12pm. They will speak about their experiences, raise awareness about the case and encourage other victims and survivors to join the campaign for justice for the GIS Filipino workers.

This event is sponsored by the Philippine Forum and all its allied organizations who joined task force for the Justice for the GIS Filipino workers campaign.

ImageWhat: Press Conference with GIS Filipino workers, families of victims of black elk explosion and community advocates regarding the Justice for GIS Filipino workers campaign.

When: January 16, 2013 at 12:00p

Where: Bayanihan Community Center, 40-21 69th St. Woodside, NY.Sponsors: Philippine forum NY, Anakbayan NY, Anakbayan NJ, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Filipinas for Rights and empowerment, The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and International Migrants Alliance. 

For more information: Anne Beryl Corotan (5169011832aberylc@gmail.com  or Jonna Baldres (6465787390jonnabaldres@gmail.com